On this guest post, travel agent and event planner Jill Kraatz, shows us her way as she, along with her family, takes us on a little journey around Naples and Pompeii, Italy.
Some of my fondest childhood memories include the two hour trips my family would take to New Haven, Connecticut to visit my Italian relatives. For years, I thought lasagna was the only acceptable food to eat at Easter and Christmas. So, when I had the opportunity to take a tour of Italy, I jumped at the chance! The first Italian city I laid my head in was Naples. The atmosphere and food did not disappoint.
This was the view from our hotel rooftop.
A visit to Naples, Italy is not complete without taking part in two very important things: Experiencing the pizza and visiting Pompeii.
Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Naples is the third-largest municipality in Italy (behind Rome & Milan), housing just under one million people within the city limits of narrow streets and adventurous (and aggressive) moped drivers.
Our first task when we arrived in Naples was to experience the pizza! Typically credited as the birthplace of pizza, there is no shortage of this cuisine. Due to a “pizza law” passed in 2004, it is impossible to find a bad Neapolitan pizza. The law regulates the type of flour, water, tomatoes, salt, and oil which is used. While Americans might laugh at such a law in the U.S., it is one taken very seriously by Neapolitans, and is certainly a law which this American appreciates!
Pizza was originated as a meal of the poor in the late 1700s but was quickly accepted and loved by all economic classes. In an effort to work off the pizza, take a stroll to Via San Gregorio Armeno, which is also known as “Nativity Row”.
This narrow street is filled with world-renowned artists, who create nativity scenes and other figures out of terra cotta. It is open year-round and definitely worth a stroll for a couple of hours. Shop owners are very friendly and helpful, and do not attempt to hawk their items and try to get you to visit their shop. In fact, most of them are busy creating figures and will take a break just long enough to either answer questions or ring up your sale. This friendly shop owner safely packed our fragile items. He took an interest in us and then proudly showed us pictures of his children and grandchildren.
After a good sleep, be sure to get up early the next day to grab the train to Pompeii. Located approximately 9 kilometers outside of Naples, and easily accessible by the local train, Pompeii will blow your minds. Pompeii is about 500 yards to the left of this train stop.
While we dragged our kids to various museums, churches, and other historical sites around Italy, I am confident that they will never EVER forget what they saw and learned in Pompeii.
While Mt. Vesuvius has erupted many times, the most devastating one occurred in A.D. 79. This catastrophic event spewed molten rock and pumice at a rate of 1.5 million tons per second. It paralyzed the residents of Pompeii and Herculaneum, literally stopping people dead in their tracks. This man was praying as the molten rock consumed him.
One is definitely walking on sacred ground when touring Pompeii. While many people and artifacts have been unearthed, there are still many bodies and treasures waiting to be found. Besides the random areas where archeologists are slowly unearthing more items, Pompeii is a free-for-all historical playground. People are welcome to meander through the ruins of the homes, bath houses, forums, and arenas. Here is a sampling of unearthed treasures at Pompeii.
Improved conservation efforts are underway to help this ancient city which has been the unfortunate victim of theft, vandalism, and deterioration.
Hmm…. Unearthing the very first Lego piece?
An empty Pompeiian street, waiting to be explored.
Tour guides will line up at the entrance and compete to be your personal tour guide for a fee. We were very happy just exploring at our own pace with the use of an audio headset we rented at the entrance. For an extra special experience, some tour guides will offer to take you by car, up near the summit of Mount Vesuvius. Be sure to research personal tours before arriving. The tour guides can be very pushy and have you believe that your experience will not be one to remember without their assistance. If you choose your own self-guided tour, be sure to give yourself around at least 4 to 5 hours to explore Pompeii without stress.
Nighttime in Naples with Mt. Vesuvius in the background.
We visited Naples in early spring and would definitely consider returning at the same time of year. Temperatures were pretty mild during the day and there were not a lot of crowds. As a bonus, we were able to enjoy some of the Easter treats which the chocolatiers had on display.
Naples is a city rich with history and delicious food. Anyone adding a stop in Naples to their itinerary will NOT be disappointed.
Jill Kraatz is a travel agent and event planner based in San Diego County. Besides helping people create unique itineraries for leisure travel, she helps companies and non-profits create conferences and conventions both in the United States. and internationally. Please visit her blog at:
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Thanks so much to Jill Kraatz and family for their inspiring look at Naples and Pompeii. If you would like to write a guest post for Camino My Way, please send me an email for more information: guestpost (at) caminomyway (dot) com.
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